Durham County Jail welcomes new director

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Colonel Anthony Prignano is the new Durham County Jail Director (WTVD)

The new jail director at the Durham County Detention Center wants the jail to become accredited.

Sheriff Mike Andrews says he feels Colonel Anthony Prignano is the right leader to take the 40-year-old facility to the next level.

For Prignano, it's a return home for the veteran officer who started at the jail as detention officer more than 20 years ago.

"I'm honored, extremely honored," he said.

The 49-year-old is eager to move the jail to an elite status: receiving accreditation from the American Correction Association (ACA). The effort will require time and money to get the jail ready for the certification.

Prignano says Mecklenburg County's jail is the only one in the state with that seal.

"ACA is an outside neutral organization that looks in within our facilities, and various policies, guidelines and so forth, that we have to follow," Prignano explained. "ACA provides an outside view on how we are doing."

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, Prignano ranks the Durham jail at an eight. But Prignano says he is aware that some in the community would rank the jail lower.

Last week, various groups gathered outside the jail to protest its conditions.

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Neither protesters, who were in the streets illegally, nor a pickup driver who pushed through the crowd will be cited.



Concerns ranged from the perceived notion that poor people are disproportionately sent to jail, to the lack of quality food being served. There's also outrage over the concept of inmate visitations taking place over video.

Prignano says some of the protestors concerns are a result of misinformation.

The jail recently contracted with a new food vendor. The inmate visitation via video concept will be in addition to detainees two weekly in-person visits.

"That's one more thing that they can have to see their loved ones via the video screen," Prignano said. "Because the very next week they'll be able to see them in person again."

As for security, Prignano says metal detectors are checked daily, and wands are used as a back-up.

The new director says down the road he would like to meet with community leaders in a town hall-style format to address concerns and clear up misinformation. Prignano also plans to hold more training for staff.

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